Master the Menu at Your Favorite Restaurants
How to outsmart the menu and order healthy when dining out.
If most restaurants offered menus full of Magic fare like lean grilled meats, whole grain side dishes, and fruit-based desserts, it would be a snap to eat out the Magic way. But they don’t. Nearly all of the most common carbohydrate rich foods on menus reflect those in the typical Western diet. In other words, they are high-GL foods. And at most restaurants, from fast-food joints to the fanciest white-tablecloth establishments, the food is floating in fat and stuffed with extra calories. Add to that the amazingly large portions that we have grown to expect for our dining dollars, and eating out seems impossible to do well.
It can be done, though, and learning to do it is a survival skill. That’s because we eat out — or have takeout meals — so often now that it’s a staple of our lives.
The first step is to accept how commonly you eat meals you haven’t made yourself, then plan to order better.
Be Careful Where You Eat
Make the challenge of eating out easier by being smart about what kinds of restaurants you patronize. Avoid the temptation of all-you- can-eat places, or buffet-style restaurants, where portions are hard to control. Avoid places known for enormous portions, like most steak houses.
Make Friends With the Waitperson
Once you’re in the right kind of restaurant, get ready to get friendly with the waitperson. Ask them to hold the breadbasket so you’re not tempted to fill up on usually high-GL carbs while waiting for your meal to arrive. Inquire about how a dish you’re considering is prepared (Is it swimming in butter? Are the vegetables present in only token amounts?) and find out how big the portions are.
When you order, be bold: Order soup, salad, and an appetizer (not fried) for your meal rather than an entrée. Split an entrée and share a side order of vegetables to get more veggies into your meal — and fewer calories. If a main dish comes with a potato, ask if you can get an extra vegetable instead. (Especially if you’re a regular customer, you’re likely to get your way.) If you plan to order dessert, plan to share it, too. The best situation is when you get to know a restaurant’s regular fare, including how big the portions are, and use that knowledge to outsmart the menu.
Tips and Advice for Your Favorite Cuisines